Monday, April 30, 2012

Scott Jurek Profiled in Team Clif Bar Video

There's even a cameo from the late Micah True...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Kenyan Marathon Olympic Team Selected - Mutai, Makau Won't Go

Oh, to have the problems of Athletics Kenya. With multiple world record holders and sub 2:05 marathoners to select from for the men's team, choosing the three to represent Kenya is a tricky thing.

The news has unofficially been released, with recent London champion Wilson Kipsang (with a near-course record run of 2:04:44), world champion Abel Kirui, and 25,000m and 30,000m world record holder Moses Mosop all making the team. Passed over were three world class athletes - last year’s world #1 ranked marathoner Geoffrey Mutai (who won Boston and NYC in 2011, both in course record times), world record holder Patrick Makau, and 2011 London champion Emmanuel Mutai. Makau dropped from London with a hamstring injury, and Mutai dropped from Boston...those drops may have cost them each their chances to head to London. Such a shame that the world's best won't be able to compete at the Olympics.

The women’s team, comprised of the first three women home at last Sunday’s Virgin London Marathon – Mary Keitany, Edna Kiplagat, and Priscah Jeptoo – is likely to be less controversial. Keitany has won the last two editions of the Virgin London Marathon in runaway victories.  Kiplagat won the world title last summer and was second in London, while Jeptoo was the silver medalist behind Kiplagat at the world championships last summer and came third in London.  That's a top notch squad.

It's going to be a stellar competition on Aug 5th/12th of this year. I'm booking my vacation time now to stay glued to the TV. ;-)

- SD

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Scorching 2012 Boston Marathon

Last Monday, I joined 22,535 die hard runners for the 116th Boston Marathon, which will go down in history as the hottest Boston on record. The temperature gauge hovered just below 90 degrees for most of the day, but thanks to awesome support from local spectators and a volunteer team more than ready for the tough conditions, we all had a great time. Now we can say "we were there in '12 for the hot one!".

This was part two in my two-race-two-coast-in-two-day extravaganza, having jumped on a flight immediately after a 3rd place finish at the Presidio 10-Mile in San Francisco, CA, to arrive just in time for the Patriot Day celebration in Boston, MA. I just can't get enough of this race (this is #8!), in particular meeting all the first-time Boston runners decked out in head-to-toe shwag. Great stories of triumph abound when you ask about their qualifying races.

The weather made for more nervous runners this year, but only a few hundred took up the Race Directors on the offer to defer to 2013. I hoped my race number (#911) wasn't a premonition on my race! I hovered with the other runners in the unusually hot Athlete's Village at the start, as everyone helped each other apply sunscreen and anti-chafing cream. I got my usual pre-race massage (still the best kept secret at the race start), and spent most of the next hour handing out over 30 little bags of S!Caps electrolytes and sharing ultrarunner tips on dealing with the heat. The conversation usually went like this:
  1. Put away the watch. This is not a PR day. It's not macho to DNF with heat stroke when it's 80 degrees at the start...it's just stupid. Just enjoy the experience and listen to your body. There's always another race to go fast!
  2. Bring some sunscreen. That's great you have it on, so bring some more for the halfway mark to reapply to your nose, ears, neck, and shoulders. There are free 1-2oz tubes at the Village. Nothing makes you feel overheated like a sunburn kicking in around mile 18, so nip that in the bud.
  3. Drink at every opportunity, and stay on your electrolytes. If you miss a water stop, don't just wait for the next one. Let the spectators help with their water and ice. If you feel overheated, slow down and find a hose. And stay on your electrolytes - Gatorade or plain salt is not enough. And keep moving!
  4. Have fun! If you find the right pace, there's no reason you can't finish this. You've done the work. Be a part of one of the epic Bostons!
(Getting warm at the start)
(Derek Bolyard checks his shades, while Derek Schultz checks his 'stache)
(...and we're off!!!)
By the time I got up the first corral, the temp was already hitting 80 degrees, and I didn't even bother setting my chrono. So different than shivering together in garbage bags to avoid hypothermia like most years! I ran into ultrarunner Derek Schultz, who is donning a cool 70's era mustache these days, and we counted off the last few seconds before heading out of Hopkinton. It's ON!

(Here we come! Photo courtesy of Damien Strohmeyer)
(One of the many bands crankin' out tunes along the way)
(Mark Lantz passes me by)
As the masses spread out a bit, you could see the snake of runners going from one patch of shade to the next. It's important to get that 1000-watt heater off you anytime you can! The spectator support was phenomenal, with many locals armed with hoses, ice, water guns, and Otter Pops. It was a fantastic show of support! We made our way through Ashland (mile 4) and Framingham (mile 7), using the cheering crowds to pull us through the treeless sections.

(The hoses feel goooood...)
(Crazy Jason Reed)
I ran along with Elizabeth Hiser from Ohio, and we talked about how a warm Midwest Spring had inadvertently helped her acclimate, while my week vacation in Hawaii had done the same for me. As long as we grabbed ice and tossed the occasional water on the head, it was manageable. The many hoses and HazMat spray tents definitely helped too. We approached Wellesley (mile 13, 1:29:00) where I slowed for my obligatory smooches, and Elizabeth felt good enough to kick up her pace (she would finish in an outstanding 3:02!).

(Getting some elbow room)
(Running w/Elizabeth)
(Boston families brought out the big guns)
(Getting some love from the Wellesley girls)
(Plenty of happy faces at the Scream Tunnel)
I soon found a nice rhythm for cooling myself, which was to grab ice where I could and let it melt in my hand until I could throw it in a cup of water, shake it up, and have a nice little cold shower. That and grabbing every popsicle and Otter Pop I could find! They haven't tasted this good since those slow hot summers in Oregon as a kid. Thank you, Boston families!

(Miss you, Rocky!)
(Santa dons his short sleeves this year)
(Aid station carnage)
My new Nikon CoolPix AW100 was getting a full test of its waterproofness, and seemed to be holding up well. The new CoolPix is a few oz lighter than the last waterproof one I've tried, which is nice, but it's too bulky for a pocket so it gets full exposure to those hoses.

(The heat takes its toll on one of 2,100+ needing medical attention)
(Boston College)
(Doin' it the hard way)
(Some would rather watch...)
I got a cup of beer from the Hash House Harriers at the bottom of Heartbreak Hill, which was more than enough boost to get through to Boston College (mile 21). The carnage of walking/stopping runners was everywhere at this point, forming a line on both sides of the road. Hang in there, guys! The medical tents were stacked full as well, and I would later learn that 2,181 runners needed medical help this year (as opposed to ~700 in a normal year). No way around it - 2012 is a tough one.

(Lots of walkin' in the final miles)
(Boylston!)
(The finish!)
(Remus Medley finds a clever way to avoid leg cramps and finishes on his hands)
Before I knew it, we were heading down Boylston St. and I crossed the finish in 3:07:24 for 861st place. How about that? I wasn't paying attention to the time and somehow clocked my fastest Boston yet. It looked like everyone added a few minutes to their expected time, including winner Wesley Korir (2:12:40) who surged late to a decisive win, and Women's winner Sharon Cherop (2:31:50) who made sure she was ready for the final kick this year.

(Kenya's Wesley Korir wins!)





I got a post-race massage, meeting SF-area Ironman champion Kyle Welch, and commenting that "my new definition of an angel is a 5-year-old with a popsicle". I thought my race schedule was tough - Kyle has ITU Worlds, 70.3 Worlds, and Ironman Hawaii coming up. Nice!

(A congratulatory hug from one of the great volunteers)
The good people of Boston really are the stars today, and my thanks to everyone who came out to make our day a little easier. Until next year!

- SD

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Crushing the 2012 Presidio 10-Mile

Last Sunday, I had the pleasure of joining 3,400 runners for the sold out 2012 Presidio 10-Miler in San Francisco, CA. As part one of my two-runs-on-two-coasts-in-two-days extravaganza, it was a fast and furious race through the hills of the Presidio and up and over the Golden Gate Bridge before jumping a plane to the Boston Marathon on Monday. It did not disappoint!

(The GG Bridge brushes the clouds)
 It was no surprise that this race sold out once again, now attracting thousands of eager runners for their hilly 10-mile and 10k distances. Everything about this race is done well by The Guardsmen, from ample course markings and smiling volunteers, to free beer and pancakes at the finish. It was voted the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) Road Race of the Year in 2011, and was the RRCA 10-mile championship race again for 2012. It's hard to imagine just six years ago there were only 300 people coming to this race!

(Even the 1%'ers love a good 10-miler)
I lined up near the front after a solid warm up, remembering from last year how that first hill slaps you in the face just a half mile in. The parents of Ashley Dyer, and founders of the Ashley Dyer Foundation for Neurological Research and Support, welcomed us with a sobering story of how their daughter was struck by a car while training on this same road, but allowed others to live through organ donation. Gnarly...but very motivating to make the most of this beautiful day and course. I was feeling rested and ready to seize the day.

(Sharing words about Ashley Dyer)

(3400 ready to run!)

(And we're off!)
The gun went off, and the fast folks quickly sorted themselves out before the first climb. 22-year-old Leon Medina and 30-year-old South African Oliver Ralph were in a class by themselves, flying at a 5:10 min/mile pace and charging the hills. I settled in with a pack of four about 20 seconds behind as we reached Fort Scott and made our way towards the Golden Gate Bridge. With all the twists and turns, there were plenty of opportunities to see where we were in the race.

(Enjoy the flat while you can!)
(Charging that first hill)
(Leon Medina sets the pace up front)
Due to construction, we wouldn't be tackling the single track dirt like last year and instead stuck to the pavement. At first I thought this was going to blow my trail-training advantage that I'm convinced was key to my Masters win here last year, but so far my turnover was pretty fast at around a 5:30 min/mile and I seemed to be hitting the hills harder than the others. One great thing about a fully-recovered body is you feel invincible on those downhills!

(Don't forget, that bridge is a good sized hill!)

(Runners take over the GG Bridge)
I moved my way up to third as we went out-and-back on the bridge (mile 4), doing my best to charge the stairs at the turnaround. It felt like I was gaining some ground on Leon and Oliver, but they remained like a distant mirage on the bridge span. But I was definitely gapping the folks behind me. When we got back to Crissy Field for the last flat 3-miles, I just tucked in and gave it all I had to catch the two singlet-clad leaders.

(We all cheer each other on)
(One last glimpse before heading back)
In the end, it wasn't quite enough to catch them, but was enough for third overall and another Masters win (57:11, PR). Old guy makes the podium! I felt surprisingly good, and suspected it was all of the recovery time I had while on vacation the previous week. With a few beers and pancakes, I thanked the RRCA and Guardsmen for another fabulous race and headed to SFO to get to steamy Boston...

(Sarah Hallis is presented with the Women's Overall trophy for her 1:03:48 finish)
(Suzette Smith celebrates her Masters win with a brew...she also ran the Napa and Oakland Marathons this month!)
(Such a great crew from the RRCA and The Guardsmen)
Thanks again, you guys!

(to be continued)


Saturday, April 07, 2012

New Neighbors - Two Bald Eagles!

(One of two American bald eagles nesting in Lower Crystal Springs, San Mateo County, CA, courtesy of JIayi Chong)
New neighbors moved in down the hill. Bald eagles! The first to nest here in over a century, and they are about eight miles from our home. Welcome!

The nest is nearly five feet wide and one foot deep to hold the couple and their two eggs. If fertile, the eaglets will be here in a couple of weeks! Pretty fun for us Californians.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Caballo Blanco Found Dead In Gila National Forest

Micah True, known to many as "Caballo Blanco" from the book Born to Run, was found dead in Gila National Forest in New Mexico after not returning from a trail run. Friends and officials have been searching for four days when they found him last Saturday, his body by a cold creek. The cause of death wasn't known Sunday, although there were no obvious signs of trauma.

(Micah True, seen here in 2009 with Jean Pommier when he came to NorCal)
Micah was an incredible voice for the Tarahumara tribe, who quietly and humbly enjoy a simple life in the Copper Mountains of Mexico. They could use his voice now, since unprecedented floods have caused them to only reap 1% of their typical maize harvest. You can donate to help by sending a PayPal to cadena@cadena.org.mx (local Jewish relief org) or on the Norawas de Raramuri web site (founded by Micah).

I really enjoyed getting to know Micah and will miss his big smile and deep spirit. This is a sad loss of a truly original and inspirational trail runner. I find great solace knowing he died doing what he loved best.

- SD